Bert Trautmann was born in Bremen, Walle. It was a time with much troubles in this German city, but he had a good life at that time. When he was ten he joined the football club Tura Bremen, in the early years he played on the left side of the midfield. From 1933 he had to join the Hitler Youth.
In the Second World War he was as a paratrooper in western Russia. He was caught by the Russians and escaped, but was finally captured by the British. The English greeted him with the words "Hello Fritz, fancy a cup of tea?". He was brought to POW Camp 50 at Ashton, near Manchester. In football matches between two camps he always played on the right midfield, but one day they had no goalkeeper and so Bert tried it and performed very well.
After the war he stayed in Britain and played for the Fourth Division club St Helens Town. When they went to Manchester to play a friendly match against City he performed his job very well, so the club officials of Manchester City signed him and gave him a good contract. The fans of City were not happy about this transaction. Season ticket holders threatened a boycott and various groups in Manchester and around the country bombarded the club with protest letters. 40,000 people went on the streets of Manchester and demonstrated against the signing of a German soldier, holding banners like "Off with the German". But then a Jewish rabbi in Manchester warned the demonstrators, "Not only one man can be convicted representative for one country". After his first matches for City the troubles were forgotten, because he played very well and he performed great saves, and soon he was loved and admired by the English population.
One of Bert's greatest matches was the legendary 1956 FA Cup Final between Manchester City and Birmingham City at Wembley Stadium. In the 75th minute Manchester took the lead by 2 goals to 1 and Trautmann, diving courageously at an incoming ball, was knocked out in a collision with a Birmingham attacker when he was hit in the neck. For the remaining 15 minutes he defended his net, because at the time there were no substitutions possible. The final result was 3-1 to Manchester City, and the hero of the final was Bert Trautmann, due to his spectacular saves in the last minutes of the match. On that day Lady Luck was on his side three days after that final a broken neck was diagnosed after an x-ray at a hospital in Manchester.
Bert appeared in 545 matches for City during a 15 year period between 1949 and 1964. He had no caps for Germany, because the German manager Sepp Herberger did not call up German players who were playing in other countries. He won the Footballer of the Year Award in 1956 for his FA Cup heroics, and was also in the FA Cup final in 1955. In 1964 he finished his career with a testimonial in front of a crowd of 60,000 people, not bad for a German whom no one had originally wanted. At this testimonial Bobby Charlton, the captain of the English national team, called him one of the greatest goalkeepers ever.
He married a Manchester woman in 1950 and in 1961 they got a son. Sadly the boy was killed in a car accident a few months after the 1956 FA Cup Final. They later divorced, and after his playing career was over Bert tried to manage lower division clubs, with little success. After this, the German Football Association sent him as a development worker to countries like Liberia, Nigeria and Yemen. Since 1990 he has lived with his second wife in a small bungalow on the Spanish coast near Valencia. He visits his old club Manchester City several times a year, and is still an idol for all generations of City supporters.
Se the book review: Trautmann -The Biography- for more details.
29/10 2004: Bert Trautmann is to receive an OBE, it was announced. The 82-year-old former German prisoner of war who overcame initial hostility from football supporters in Britain after World War II to become a national hero, is to be honoured for his efforts to improve British-German relations. He has recently launched the Trautmann Foundation, aimed at promoting better understanding between the countries through football. The British Ambassador to Berlin, Sir Peter Torry, will present Trautmann with the honour on the orders of Queen Elizabeth II, who is visiting Germany next week.
29/11 2004: A welcome visitor to Eastlands on Saturday was City goalkeeping great Bert Trautmann. The German, who has the 1956 FA Cup final named after him after playing on against Birmingham with a broken neck, was at the ground to receive his entry into the M.E.N. sponsored City Hall of Fame. The 81-year-old missed the inaugural gala dinner in January because he was recovering from an operation. Chairman John Wardle made the presentation to the former Iron Cross holder and prisoner of war, who played 545 league and cup games for the Blues and has recently been made an OBE.